Performance is better than promise. Exuberant assurances are cheap.
— Joseph Pulitzer
In the previous three posts, we covered the layers that define an what an Engineer brings to the job on a daily basis – Personality, Capabilities and the Present. Now, we close the loop by talking about what those three layers unite to deliver: Performance.
The Performance Layer
The Performance Layer is where the rubber meets the road, or more specifically, where the Engineer brings to bear all their talents to deliver the primary objective of the Engineering team: efficiently creating valuable functionality for Customers. Here’s how I see that layer :
I categorize the facets of the Performance layer into three areas:
- Output – simply put, one of the most important aspects of an Engineer’s performance is how much functionality they create. It’s difficult to measure this precisely, but it’s one of those things that you know when you see it. We will talk in future posts how to measure this one way or another.
- Quality – Although it is assumed that the output outlined above is of sufficient quality, that isn’t always the case. It is important that we balance and calibrate the speed of output mentioned previously against the quality. We’re primarily interested in the quality that is visible to the Customer, but the internal quality is important as well. I’ll have many future posts on Quality and Code Quality.
- Impact on Team – the other impact an Engineer can have on Performance is their effect on others members of the team. This impact can be positive or negative – a great Engineer, like a great athlete in a team sport, can make everyone around them better. If you can find an Engineer like that, take good care of them. Conversely, there are Engineers who can drain a team. This manifests itself in many ways – for example, some Engineers need help on every single task, even those that they have done before many times. Other “energy sinks” draw away productivity by constant negativity or through constant banter and debate.
As a manager, you need to focus on understanding the productivity of each individual and each team and make sure you understand which is which, and who is contributing to what. In the next post, we talk about the final layer, where we look beyond the present to the future.
This post is based on or excerpted from the upcoming book “De-Engineering the Corporation” by Darryl Ricker
 Conveniently (and quite coincidentally) grouped into three pies, just like the previous three layers.